Saturday, December 8, 2012

Claus's Kraut, Cubes, Kale, Noodles and Oodles

I've been busy trying to get ready for Santa.

First, I made him some CSA Sauerkraut from scratch!  I hope he likes kraut.

 I started the kraut on Tuesday, November 20th.  

It was four big cabbages (two white and two red) from my CSA, hand cored and sliced, with a few carrots thrown in, plus Kosher salt. I sprinkled salt on as I went, no more than maybe a tablespoon per head of cabbage) and caraway seeds (sprinkled in as I packed it into the bucket).

My kraut making techniques are a combination of Sandor's instructions, this and these and some videos on youtube. There are tons of videos on different techniques on YouTube, too, just put in "homemade sauerkraut" and a ton come up. Here is Sandor's video (great! But, who doesn't love Sandor?) and this nice Gramma also uses a big, food safe bucket like the one I got FREE from Wegmans (see below!!).

Once your cabbage is sliced (phew!) put a little at a time into your "crock" and pack it down to push out all the air.  I used a potato masher.  Keep adding and pushing until it's all in there.

 Carrot top :-)

Now you need a lid/plate or other covering that *just* fits inside your crock.
My plate didn't quite fit, so I made a plate out of aluminum foil, I just pushed the foil to the edges of the bucket.  I used a triple thickness.  I hope that's a legit method :-)

Weight it down with something really heavy.  I used water inside two, huge freezer bags made to hold soup (according to their marketing, anyway):

Snap the lid on, if you have one (or make one out of a towel or cheesecloth or something) and wait.

You want the brine to come up over your "plate" so the kraut is always submerged.  It should happen in about 24-48 hours, longer is also fine, it seems, as long as it is airtight and mold isn't forming, leave it alone. 
You can see the liquid is above the plate and the bubbles indicate fermentation is happening!

P.S. I got the big bucket for free at Wegmans
A big thanks to the awesome Joni Marie Newman for suggesting I check with my grocery store for a big container! I love Joni.

My Italian friend in the Wegmans cheese department sent me to bakery to check out my request for a big (preferably glass) jar or bucket.  They had a large, food grade plastic bucket and they gladly gave me one.

Their bakery department orders icing in these big guys (it's a 15L bucket, which is about 4 gallons)
I open it outside to scoop and re-pack the kraut! 

Baby Klaus's Kraut (One Week Old).  Delicious, mild and crunchy!

I have to remember to re-check the kraut tomorrow, hoping for a richer, more sour kraut!

I've also been breaking into the frozen stash of CSA stuff:
 This is the sauce from the Squash Mac I made in October.  I sauteed six cloves of garlic in olive oil and added about eight cubes of the sauce, also added a bit of hot pasta water to thin it out.  

It was perfect for Penne & Broccoli!

 With home made chickpeas!

My favorite "Stellar Stuffed Mushrooms" from The 30 Minute Vegan.
These are so amazing.

And this may look plain, but it was great.
 Sauteed Kale and Mushrooms in Oil, Organic Lemon juice and Garlic with Kosher Salt & Pepper.

And I found an organic, vegan vanilla pudding powder at the grocery store!
If you want to make The Veggnog Cake and can't find that Bird's powder or don't want to order it, I bet this stuff works pretty good.
I'll try it the next on the round of Veggnog Cakes!

This was dinner last night (I added rich, garlicky chickpeas, too)
 Dinner last night was the Kale and Friends Salad  Organic Kale and Brown Rice Salad with Dried Organic Cranberries, Sliced Almonds and a Organic Winter Citrus Vinaigrette. 
I also added rich, garlicky chickpeas (pressure cooked in rich broth, olive oil and salt).

In a large bowl, place one bunch of kale leaves, washed and chopped mixed with 1/3 cup dried cranberries, 1/3 cup slivered almonds, and 1/3 cup of sliced grapes (if you want) or slices of mandarin orange.  Dress this first with 2.5 T of the dressing.

Cook 1.5 Cups of brown rice and dress that with another 2.5 T of the dressing, put the hot, cooked and dressed rice over the kale salad mixture and stir very well.  The kale will cook a tiny bit and soften nicely.

Winter Citrus Vinaigrette: 1/3 cup of olive oil, 1 clove of garlic smashed, 1 tsp Kosher Salt, bunch of pepper, juice of one organic lemon, one organic orange and about 1 tsp of combined orange and lemon zest. Whisk like hell.  Pour 2.5 T over your kale salad mixture and 2.5 T over your Brown Rice.

This was breakfast this morning!
Old Fashioned Oats with Flax, Organic Grade B Maple Syrup, Vietnamese Cinnamon, Vanilla, Bananas and Chopped Pecans.  YUM. 

Lunch Today: A version of Hornswaggle Salad.  My favorite!

Besides eating, I am also working on oodles of homemade gifts:
Many mini loaves are in my future. My Vegan Sticky Gingerbread is up first.

Ollie and I are also working on hand made Christmas gifts for the family:
Handmade Gift Post Coming Soon! 

Hang in there everyone, "the holidays" will be over before you can say



Thursday, November 29, 2012

(V)Eggnog Cake with Spiced Whisky Glaze

Vegan Eggnog (Veggnog!) Cake with Spiced Whisky Glaze, anyone?

Recipe coming soon...(see below!)

I'll just update this same post with the recipe, OK?


And, here it is!

VEggnog Cake with Spiced Whisky Glaze 
*Inspired by this recipe on Knead to Cook!*

2 EnerG Egg Replacer "Eggs"
This is 3 tsp. EnerG powder plus 4 T warm water, whisk thoroughly in a bowl and set aside.

3/4 Cup Organic White Sugar
1/2 Cup (one stick)Vegan Butter at room temperature 
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1.5 Cups SoDelicious Coconut "Nog" (It is thick and delicious!)
*Or, try my friend, Allysia's home made veggnog!
1 T Canadian Whisky (I like Seagram's V.O.)* 
*You can use any other brown booze you like, Grand Marnier for a little orange vibe would be good, as would Frangelico (for a hazelnut vibe) or Drambuie (but D. does have honey in it, just an fyi) or just spiced rum.

2 1/4 C. Flour* 
*I used half WWW and half AP
1/4 cup plus 3T (7 T. total) of Bird's Custard Powder (it's vegan!)
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a ten inch loaf pan (or mini loaf pans!) and set aside.  Whisk up the egg replacer and water and set aside.

In a large bowl (big enough to hold all your batter) cream the butter and the sugar together.  Stir in the extract, nog and whisky and combine well.  

Now, add your dry ingredients by sifting them in right over the big bowl.

 Here's the Bird's Powder! It has a cool, pinkish tinge to it.

 Sift the dry ingredients right into the wet ones.  This is one of my favorite baking tricks.

 See the pretty pink Bird's mixed in with the light brown WWW and the white AP flours?

 Don't overmix! Just mix until well combined.

Pour it into your prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 for 45 to 55 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Mine was done right at 50 minutes.  

P.S. I love this loaf pan and it is very reasonable, I bought two of them.

 Santa would be pretty psyched about this...

But it needs glaze!  Let the loaf cool completely (about one hour), then slide a piece of wax paper under your cooling rack.  

Glaze her up!

Spiced Whisky Glaze

One Cup Sifted Organic Powdered Sugar

Three Tablespoons Total of Vegan Eggnog + Whisky 
*I did 1.5 T of Eggnog and 1.5 T of Whisky
1/4 tsp Vietnamese Cinnamon *Penzeys if possible
Sprinkle of Nutmeg (no more than 1/8 tsp)

Mix thoroughly in a small bowl with a fork until it is the consistency and taste you prefer.  

Pour over your cooled Veggnog Cake and serve!

Happy Veggnoging, guys!

I think I'll make mini loaves of this and give them to the librarians at my beloved library :-)

Why mini loaves?

Because Santa stopped by today with an early Xmas gift!


Mini loaves for everyone--or, at least for librarians!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sweet Potato Gruyere Pizza and Pizza Makin' Tips

Here is my "Thanksgiving Pizza," originally conceived by Sweet Potato Man, but modernized and executed by moi.

Sweet Potato Gruyere Pizza
Organic, Spiced Sweet Potato Puree, Caramelized Fennel, Shaved Garlic, Homemade Cashew Gruyere (Hard and Soft varieties), Basil Chiffonade, Chopped Hazelnuts, Home Dried Sage on a Rosemary White Whole Wheat Crust.

To make your own Thanksgiving Pizza, make your favorite pizza dough recipe and add 1 tsp of dried Rosemary.  You can add other spices or herbs to your dough as well (oregano, sage, thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg) but I just wanted rosemary as some other spice elements were present in my other ingredients.  I also like using King Arthur's White Whole Wheat flour, it is a whole grain and tastes great as a pizza dough.  Turn your dough out into a well oiled bowl and let your dough rise (usually about 1.5 hours for me).

While your dough is rising, prepare your toppings.
Hard and Soft Gruyere Cashew Cheeses (lighter cheese is the soft gruyere, darker cheese is the hard), Sweet Potato Puree (with added Cinnamon--Penzeys Vietnamese, a very strong and spicy cinnamon, salt, pepper, olive oil and garlic powder), Caramelized Fennel, Shaved Garlic, Home Dried Sage, Basil Chiffonade, and Chopped Hazelnuts.

I like to have my toppings all ready to be placed on the dough.  There's a spoon already in the Sweet Potato Puree.  Each loose topping gets it's own  spice bowl.  The cheese has been sliced and set out ready to be placed.

Elements I chose not to add were nutmeg, thyme or oregano, hot pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, etc.  I didn't want the spice elements to overwhelm, but any of those flavors would be great depending on what type of pizza you are going for.

Get your pizza peel ready by dusting with cornmeal.  I just use a cookie sheet, this one has two raised sides (so you can pick it up off the counter and out of the oven) and is flat on the other two sides so you can slide the pizza onto the stone/griddle.

In the last forty minutes or so of your dough rising, turn your oven to 500 degrees F (take your dough out first if you were proofing it in the cold oven!!).  Put your pizza stone or your magical Double Burner Cast Iron Griddle in the oven, too.  Once you are preheated to 500, allow the stone/griddle to heat up for 30 full minutes.  

When your dough is done rising, punch it down in the bowl.  Then, instead of "rolling it out," and dealing with sticky dough everywhere, I use a trick to shape my dough into a pizza.  I actually just push it into a pizza crust right in the bowl it rose in.  I use my fingers to push the dough right into the bowl, making a rough oval with even thickness. Don't worry that it is curved like the bowl, just get it to be an even thickness and the shape that you want.  (I should have taken a picture of this, sorry guys.  I will add one the next time I do pizza.)  Then I take it out carefully (It looks like a concave dough oval) and lay it on my prepared cookie sheet, and just using my hands/fingers, I continue to press it out into the perfect oval (my griddle is rectangular, so I don't do circle pizzas!).  The concavity resolves itself immediately once you lay it flat.  So easy!

Add your toppings.  

Work fairly quickly since if the dough is thin, the wet toppings can start soaking through and your pizza will stick to the peel.

Make sure your pizza slides around on the pan when you shake it gently.  If it doesn't, carefully lift it around the edges and push more cornmeal underneath it (the cornmeal acts as ball bearings for the dough to roll off the pan when you slide it).  You may have a stuck spot somewhere, I had one today close to the center.

Once your pizza is loaded with toppings and can slide left to right (towards the raised edges) and a bit back and forth (towards the open edge) you are ready to go.  Remove your hot stone/griddle from the oven.

Slide your pizza out the open edge and onto your (now very hot) stone/griddle.  Bake for 10-12 minutes in your (very well) preheated oven.  

When your pizza is done (it will be golden on the bottom, toppings will be cooked and starting to brown), remove it from the griddle using two heat proof spatulas.  

Or, at least, that's how I do it.

Put it back on your cookie sheet, and let it cool just a little bit.  
Lydia says now she's ready to serve!

Serve with Cranberry Sauce or Mushroom (or any other!) Gravy for dipping.

What kinds of pizza dreams do you have?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Food and Fun: Thanksgiving 2012

Here it is, Thanksgiving 2012: the food, the fun, the foils!

First, the food.
Baked Tofu with Mushroom Gravy, Steamed CSA Cauliflower & Romanesco (didn't make it into a gratin, but it was still good!), Isa's Roasted Fennel & Hazelnut Salad with Shallot Dressing (dressing not applied yet!), Mashed Yukon Golds and Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes.

 Baked Tofu! So easy, so delicious.  

Susan's recipe reminded me that it could easily be served as a vegan main course for T-day, so bake it and serve it I did!  

Doesn't Romanesco look like little Christmas trees? 

Roasting Fennel, Shallots and Garlic for the Salad:
It was fun shaking the hazelnuts in a towel to get the skins off!

 Shallot Dressing for the Roasted Fennel and Hazelnut Salad 
(recipe was from Veganomicon).

 Cranberry Sauce! (Hubby's secret recipe)

Oh, and for appetizers, we had a vegan cheese plate!
Homemade, Soft "Gruyere" Style Cashew Cheese from Artisan Vegan Cheese, Castelvetrano Olives and Red Seedless Grapes.
Note: The cheese was sliceable after sitting in the fridge for about ten days.  It tasted incredible!  

And, the fun...
We got presents from Grandma Margie! 
 Grandma Margie loves to draw little cartoons.
I love that little turkey! 

Emory got those cool "magic" worms from the 70's now marketed as "Squirmels." 
They are really really fun.

Ollie enjoyed the presents, too.  
As any good cat should, she loved the wrapping paper and bags.

Is that one of those worms on a string from the 70's?

She also really loved the squirmels.  Emory is playing with it there in the background and she is just captivated.  She can't quite tell if it's real or not...

I got really pretty autumnal dinner napkins for my hostess gift.
 Here they are with Lydia, our Thanksgiving Turkey 
(She's named after Lydia Bastianich!)

The foil...
Pa brought a present for Emory, too:
 An awesome homemade Magic Sword, kinda He-Man in the style department.

Pa raked and Emory attacked!

What to do now?

Pie, of course!
Use whatever crust you like or need to use, they all work.  I love Susan! 

Dawn's Gingersnap Crust Recipe:
Put all but six cookies from a 10 ounce bag of Mi-Del Swedish Style Gingersnaps (they are awesome and they are vegan!) into your food processor and pulse until fine crumbs are achieved.  With the machine on, add three tablespoons of melted butter (EB) or neutral oil (canola, etc.) and blend until combined.  Press into pie pan and blind bake at 350 for 10 minutes. 

Fill it with the cream cheese mixture first:
Then add the pumpkin mixture and bake!

Oh. My. Goodness.  This pie is so amazing.

We are already making leftovers, too:
 Mini Thanksgiving Pot Pies!
Hubby's Recipe: 
Layer and/or mix whatever you like for this pie! The bottom is best with something firm like packed stuffing, middle layer is your veggies and/or main course mixed with gravy + extra pepper, cover with mashed potatoes, sprinkle with smoked paprika and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. YUM-O.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  BTW, I didn't make the Thanksgiving Pizza yet, but it's on the to-do list, maybe tomorrow.

Right now, I should really check on this...
I haven't looked in on it since Wednesday, I think.